Creating a safe sleep environment

By Dr. Nicky Cohen, Clinical Psychologist on July 11, 2015

Question

My son just turned 2.5 months and we are soon going to be moving him from a bassinet to a crib. What should or should not be in his crib? Also, what should his sleep environment be like?

Answer

By three months of age, I recommend making the sleep environment all about sleep. So things such as mobiles and toy aquariums, that can be stimulating, are best removed and left as daytime toys. I would also suggest that the crib be reserved for sleeping so that it is associated with sleep.

The optimal sleep environment should be dark and quiet. As light is a sleep disrupter and common cause of bedtime problems, night and early morning wakings, and napping difficulties, there should not be a light on while an infant falls asleep or during the night. Room darkening shades are also helpful to block outside light coming into a room, including during the day for naps, as well as early evening and early morning light. Room temperature should be on the ‘cool side of comfortable’. Being overheated is a risk factor for SIDS and can also lead to sleep disruption, including restless sleep.

In accordance with Canadian Paediatric Society and Public Health Agency of Canada guidelines, for safety reasons, soft, non-breathable materials should not be in a crib. Research shows that up to two years of age (at least) soft materials such as blankets, non-breathable bumpers, and stuffed animals in a crib pose a suffocation risk.

For more information on safe sleep practices for infants see: Safe Sleep Guidelines for Infants

The information provided by Dr. Cohen is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice. Individuals are encouraged to speak with a physician or other health care provider if they have concerns regarding their child's sleep and before starting any treatment plan. As it may not be possible to answer all questions, representative ones on different topics will be selected. The information provided by Dr. Cohen is provided with the understanding that Dr. Cohen is not rendering clinical, counselling, or other professional services or advice. Such information is intended solely as a general educational aid and not for any individual problem. It is also not intended as a substitute for professional advice and services from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your unique facts.


By Dr. Nicky Cohen, Clinical Psychologist| July 11, 2015

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